Just rolling along...
School is officially in session. I hate to say full swing, considering we are on day nine, but heck if it doesn’t feel full swing.
This month is a wild one for our little crew. Lots of firsts for all of us. Like, a lot. To be truthful, I didn’t realize how quickly we seemed to catapult into this “new” phase until I started to get a knot in my stomach in anticipation.
This time last year, I could barely keep my head above water. I felt like the slightest tap to my shoulders, and I was going under. Don’t get me wrong, I managed. I can’t say I managed with ease (think, running a marathon wearing a lead cape…), but I got things done. The water was so high above my head, I couldn’t have even conceived of life the way that it is now. Every day life- simply getting my kids to school with food in their bellies and clean clothes, literally took everything I had.
My big kids started back to school last week. Gone are the days of no bedtime, eat whenever we want, come and go as we please with no discernible “need” to be “anywhere” at “anytime.” The night before school, my Cami girl, being the absolute lover of rules that she is, was excited to get back into the game she knows so well. Where she gets points for being punctual, polite, and ticking off “to do” lists of classwork. Yes, that’s my girl, an eight year old worker bee. I helped her pick out her clothes, I braided her hair, and rolled with it.
My Benny boy, though…my sweet, sensitive boy, like me, gets anxious about anticipating “new things.” A new teacher, a new class schedule to learn, new kids to get to know. He had a good cry the night before school, so I was bracing myself to have to give the “You’ll do GREAT!” speech the next morning, through my “be strong, mama” fake smile. Of course then I’d cry after walking away. Not that I’ve had to do that a thousand times the past year, or anything. Yet to my shock, as I hugged him and told him to have a great day, preparing for his lip to curl…he just…walked away. He smiled, and waved, and walked away. His teacher and I looked at each other and grinned, and despite the tiny needles in my heart, I rolled with it.
The same followed suit the next week for Nathan; who I was SURE was going to cry as I dropped him off at his new school…I mean, someone has to cry right? Yeah…me again. Me and me only. I wiped those tears away, and I rolled with it.
I dipped my toe into the PTA, and I signed myself up for the required training sessions to coach in the next two weeks, as well. I also started my new part time job. It’s fun, it’s light and social, and a great chance to spend more time at the gym. This is my first new job since 2007. Between this fun little gig, and volunteering to coach at school, this is also the first time I’ve ever chosen to send my kids to a local aftercare program.
Which leads me to that. When I was younger, I considered the fact that I wouldn’t have to use an aftercare program to be a big “pro” of being a stay at home mom. I loved the fanciful daydream that I’d scoop them up from school (or off the bus) and chat about our day over snacks and homework. I don’t think they’re bad (at all), I just never envisioned having to use them. I assumed that coming home to me was the best thing for all of us (and for a time, it was). Yet, as I’m so well aware, things change.
My kids have grown. They’re already learning that they want a good mix of time with Mom, and time with friends. They want to try new things, learn new things, and find their own friends, who have similar interests. I’m so lucky that thus far, they’ve made great choices in those activities…running club, science club, cub scouts. At first, I planned to hire a babysitter for the hours I’d be at work or coaching, but then I overheard them talking about how “cool” this particular program was, and how they have friends who already attend. And wouldn’t you know, this aftercare is located right in Nathan’s school? It couldn’t work better if I wanted it to. So yesterday, for the first time ever, my babies, who I never envisioned being greeted by anyone other than me, took a bus to after care. I almost rolled with it…
I cried half the morning, ya’ll. I cried when I dropped Nathan off. I cried when I got home and started getting ready for my one “long shift” a week. I teared up when I made a nervous phone call to the program director to make sure my kids arrived safely (I had a flash in my mind of my kids standing outside of our door at home, with no one to let them in). It was a bittersweet day…
Not because I’m mad that I “have” to do it, because in all truth, I don’t. Technically, I don’t have to do any of these things. We could sit these activities out; I could do all the same things every day- walk, clean, run errands. It’d be easier, and it’d be cheaper, thats for sure. These were choices I made to move forward; to be involved in my kids’ lives beyond making meals and putting their laundry away; to encourage them to keep going, growing, and evolving. It’s also another step for me, a little baby step toward my future goals. I’m grateful for those choices, and I’m well aware that my even having options is a blessing beyond measure. It’s bittersweet because it’s simply another acceptance that our lives are different than what I’d planned so long ago. It’s bittersweet because there will always be a piece of me who can’t reconcile the life I lived with Kenny, and the life that I live now; I call it the “sliding doors” existence. With every act of moving forward, it requires letting go of that old set of visions for our future.
It’s also bittersweet because I’m happy. Those were tough words to write, because I know the million ways people may construe them. But over the months, I realized that those who care, they’ll just be happy that I’m happy. Those who may be put off would find fault with it, no matter how I “defend” myself with the arduous process of getting to this point. I'm happy because I found my homeostasis, my center, my higher ground. It’s different kind of happy than I’d set out for nine years ago, when I was pregnant with Cameron, but it is happiness. I’m really, fucking happy.
I love my life right now. My kids, my balancing act of a schedule, my home, my friends, my newfound confidence in myself. I’m done waiting until my life “looks” like everyone else’s to enjoy it; that ship sailed long ago. I love it now. I’m grateful for it now.
It took me sixteen months to get here, and despite the crippling anxiety that tells me to not get too excited (and “Jesus woman, don’t admit you’re happy!), I’m overriding that bitch (I know! My mouth today!). If I get today to be happy, I’m rolling with it. If I get tomorrow, too, I’m rolling with that, as well. I don’t want to look back and regret not enjoying the days I could. So as long as the tide is rolling in my favor, I’m just rolling right along with it.
Cheers to the new school year, parents!